According to a survey by Virgin Atlantic, the back-packs of Indian students enrolled in foreign universities are stuffed with Maggie noodles,pickles and mangoes. Ready to pay excess baggage fee, students are willing to leave books and clothes behind. Other favorites include jaggery, bhujias, mathri and ghee. One creative soul insisted on carrying the traditional broom. What a broom can, a vacuum cleaner cannot. And old habits die hard.
I remember, when I went to live in a hostel for my graduation, my mother insisted on packing umpteen boxes of home made savories. When the mess food was despicable, which was a norm, my mom's home made delicacies were saviours.
Decades later, nothing has changed. My son has similar issues. On the day of his departure, the house is engulfed in a mist of emotions. As the packing commences, the emotional mist thickens. The father, in a somber mood finds solace in mellifluous Rafi or a voluminous book. The grandmother finds refuge in the kitchen. For my mother, emotional connect is directly proportional to the time spent in the kitchen. But honestly, kitchen is not my favorite place. So I take charge of packing the food items and making space for the same in his backpack. Space being inadequate, a silent altercation ensues.
For the young man, gizmos, wires and books are on a higher pedestal. Naturally space for all the food stuff is limited. But ‘ma ki mamta’ is limitless. He refuses to carry eatables while I insist on packing as much as possible.
Both of us stick to stated positions. The tension escalates. A firm voice of his father breaks the impasse. “Take all that your mother has packed. Throw it if you cannot eat it.” End of the discussion. Poor boy shoves all the cookies, snacks and savories the cost of his favorite clothes and gadgets.
Three days later I receive a call from the young man after dinner.
“Why? No food in the mess?”
“It was horrible.”
“ What about the stuff I packed?”
“So soon? Did you throw the stuff or what?”
“My room mate and friends finished everything.”
The fact that a few hungry souls had their fill gave me some solace.
After the call , like any other mother, I found my dinner insipid. However, the following day I came to know that the boys had raided the college canteen that night and enjoyed hot aloo parathas around midnight.
So if your child is going abroad, where chances of hogging aloo parathas at midnight are bleak, then all the ready-to-eat packets and bhujias make sense. The broom makes sense too. After all one does need familiar things away from home.